$1.1 billion in funding from the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act’s $6 billion Civil Nuclear Credit program has been conditionally awarded by the DOE to PG&E for use in relicensing and extending the life of Diablo Canyon, whose two reactors had been slated for retirement in 2024 and 2025.
As such, these funds will be used exactly as intended by the Federal Government’s Civil Nuclear Credit program, to support “safe and reliable” carbon-free nuclear energy facilities, preserve some 1,500 high-paying jobs and reduce carbon emissions, the DOE said.
Diablo Canyon, a 2,240 MW nuclear power plant applied for the funding soon after the California Legislature voted to allow the plant to continue operating as the best way to prevent worsening grid instability, blackouts and increasing carbon emissions from expanded use of natural gas. PG&E’s application, which won the support of California’s governor, Gavin Newsom and his staff, passed through the first round of vetting done by the DOE on applications received. Unfortunately, Michigan’s already closed Palisades plant, despite support from Governor Gretchen Whitmer, did not receive conditional approval for funding.
“This is a critical step toward ensuring that our domestic nuclear fleet will continue providing reliable and affordable power to Americans as the nation’s largest source of clean electricity,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm.
Patti Poppe, CEO of PG&E, said in a news release that the federal decision is “another very positive step forward to extend the operating life of Diablo Canyon Power Plant to ensure electrical reliability for all Californians.”
Nuclear power provides 50% of the carbon-free electricity in the U.S., but shifting energy markets and other economic factors have resulted in the early closures of 13 commercial reactors, DOE said. The plant shutdowns have led to an increase in carbon emissions, poorer air quality and the loss of thousands of high-paying jobs, the agency said.
The first Civil Nuclear Credit award cycle set as its priority reactors facing the “most imminent threat of closure,” DOE said. Applications are limited to reactors that announced intentions to shut due to economic factors. The second cycle will include reactors projected to close in the next four years.